Sunday, September 22, 2013

Paul Pasqualoni reflects on Michigan game

UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni has had some time to digest what happened both positively and negatively in last night's game against Michigan and shared his thoughts on his weekly day after conference call with the media.

"There were some very encouraging things on film on both sides of the ball, some things that we obviously have to do a better job of finishing with but I think we are getting better and there are some things that we can build on

"We played with so many young players. The encouraging thing is we have young wide receivers in the game, we have first-year players in the game. Johnny Green is really trying to step up, trying to fill some big shoes, Deshon Foxx is still a first-year player gaining experience. He played and tried to be as productive as he could be. I thought Max DeLorenzo went into the game, played 15-19 plays and did a good job. I thought Martin Hyppolite went in and helped us in protection, Dalton Gifford came in and played really hard. Jefferson Ashiru went in and played his first game, an inexperienced guy really played down to down. He’s got some things to clean up but tried to give us good effort. Tyree Clark had to go into the game for Taylor Mack and he showed us that he could compete, he tried really hard assignment wise and made some plays for us. Brian Lemelle came in and caught some punts. I probably shouldn’t have put him in that situation right before the half, I should have let the clock run out but we were returning punts well and I got a little greedy. Jon Hicks went in on special teams and made some plays for us.

"We asked some guys to step up. We asked the older guys to try to take their game up a notch and I think we did that

"I don’t know if anybody has done the job on Gallon that our kids did in this game not letting him get a big one. I thought Byron Jones came back and made a great play (on the interception). He got beat on that play in the first game, he came back and got that play right. I thought first-year corner Jhavon Williams made some plays, played pretty consistent assignment wise so we played with a lot of first year and young players and I thought they tried to step up and that was very encouraging."

Obviously with injuries sidelining OT Kevin Friend, LB Graham Stewart and WR Shakim Phillips and CB Taylor Mack getting knocked out of the game with a stringer, Pasqualoni had little choice but to throw the young players in there.

"We don’t have a choice in some cases here," Pasqualoni said. "When you get as many people hurt as he have somebody has to play. It is not a matter of want to, it is a matter of need to and we need to put them in. I thought they did a respectable job. We are playing the 15th ranked team in the country, the most storied, winningest program in the history of college football and if you count up the number of young guys who are in that game, I thought they fought it pretty hard for the whole night."

Pasqualoni was asked to react to Chandler Whitmer's costly interception which led to the tying touchdown.

"I think the linebacker really made a good play. I think a lot of times I think you can fit that ball in over the linebacker but this kid just went up and got it with one hand. Are you asking me ‘do I wish he didn’t throw it?’ Yeah, it was intercepted and I wish he didn’t throw it but he fits a lot of other tight ones in there is the course of the game and especially the last one when we had a chance to almost make a first down on the last play and it is the same play. It is a tight window, a tough decision."

Pasqualoni addressed the decision to take back to back timeouts before that 4th-and-29 play.

"The first one was to see how they are lining up and we could see what the coverage was going to be and what the front was going to be and we were trying to garner information," Pasqualoni said. "The second time, I think they figured out what we were trying to do so we put Geremy on the other side and we tried to change the formation on them which worked. Chandler had the opportunity to go inside and go outside, they were both open so he took the inside guy. The safety came back over the Deshon and stopped him a couple yards short. It was the right thing to do."

With this being perhaps the most important recruiting weekend during the season, certainly playing in front of not only the largest home crowd but perhaps the loudest one as well and giving No. 15 Michigan all it could handle was a positive.

"What I said to them that this is the kind of atmosphere, the kind of fan support, the kind of game day conditions you will play in at the University of Connecticut," Pasqualoni said. "There will be a very tough conference (schedule), or non-conference opponents are going to be high level people just like what you saw tonight. For recruiting, for exposure, for our program it certainly was a very good night. We had a lot of kids there and we had a good time with them in the tent before the game, we had a great time with them on the sidelines and as disappointing as it was, they were all in the locker room after the game, we got a chance to talk to them and say hi to them and they had a chance to just be a part of a great effort and really a very good college football game. We are disappointed we lost but it was a great game in the state of Connecticut and in the Northeast for our conference, for our university and I thought we got a lot out it."

With yet another game when UConn made just enough mistakes to lose, Pasqualoni was asked if he thought the law of averages would come into play and perhaps the Huskies can start winning some of these tight affairs.

"I would hope so," Pasqualoni said. "I would hope we have a chance if we keep doing what you have to do, in the end the game is a fair game and you win your share of those. It is tough to lose a game like that but under the conditions of how many young kids we had to play, I thought the staff did a great job of getting the kids ready and the kids gave great effort."

Pasqualoni said it is too early to get a sense of the availability of the injured players for Saturday's road opener against Buffalo.


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